SIR Elton John has come up with the perfect way to thank the ROYAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC for helping him launch his career - by setting up a scholarship for talented youngsters.

The YOUR SONG hitmaker launched a new $1.8 million (GBP1 million) endowment fund for the institution - after staging a gala fundraising concert at the ROYAL OPERA HOUSE in London - which will assist musical kids from deprived backgrounds.

Elton was given his own scholarship to the Academy when he was just 11 and credits his time there for helping him become a superstar.

He explains, "For quite some time I have tried to find a way to repay my debt to the academy."

Communications manager PETER CRAIK enthuses, "This is very, very exciting and fantastic for the students.

"It is not just a matter of funding for Elton, he also wants to take a personal interest in the students as individuals.

"It is fantastic for them to have this very great figure who has made it to take an interest in them.

"Elton wants to follow their progress and give them advice all the way."

20/05/2004 21:02